WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of 74 senators in a letter urging Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought to support local radio broadcasters, television broadcasters, and newspapers during the coronavirus pandemic. The letter comes as the widespread impact of the pandemic – including plummeting advertising revenue – could decimate regional and local news outlets even as communities have become increasingly reliant on their coverage of the public health crisis. Already some newspapers have reduced or eliminated print editions, while other news outlets have furloughed staff.
“Our radio and television broadcasters and rural newspapers provide local and national news, emergency alerts, educational programs, and more to all corners of the United States. In many rural areas, broadcast stations are the predominant or only form of local information,” the Senators wrote. “We encourage the Office of Management and Budget to work with federal agencies throughout the government to increase advertising in local newspapers and on broadcast stations in order to help ensure they are able to continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Senators Collins and King were lead sponsors of the PRINT Act, legislation which aimed to reverse a tariff that would have greatly increased the cost of newsprint and hurt local papers across the country. Senators Collins and King also testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) in opposition to this tariff; the ITC judgment agreed with their assessment and chose to end the tariff in question.
Senator King has fought to protect local journalism in the face of growing economic stresses – earlier this month, he joined a group of nineteen senators seeking to support local journalism and media in any future coronavirus relief package, and joined Brian Stelter’s CNN Reliable Sources program to highlight the threats facing local media and the unique, vital services provided by these local outlets during this pandemic.
To read the full letter, click HERE.